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Taught courses and research programmes

Postgraduate Study can generally be divided into Taught Courses and Research Opportunities.

Search for postgraduate courses and research opportunities.

Before beginning your search for a programme of study it is important that you understand the differences between these two modes of study.

Research Programmes

Research degrees are usually assessed entirely by a piece of individual research and an oral defence of the work in front of an examining board. They can generally be divided into Masters degrees and Doctorates. The research Masters degree, for example the MPhil, usually lasts for two years and requires the student to produce a research paper of around 40,000 words. Many MPhils have a significant taught element in their first year whilst others are purely research based.

Doctorates, for example the PhD, usually last for three years and require the submission of a much longer paper. For both Masters by research and Doctorates, your supervisor is responsible for guiding the direction of your research, and for ensuring that you are on schedule.

Examples of other research degree award titles are: DPhil, LLD, DSc, DLitt, DEng, DEd

Taught Courses

Taught Courses usually consist of a number of modules and units, which are assessed by a mixture of continuous assessment and exams. There will be a set amount of contact time with the course providers, which will take the form of seminars, tutorials, lectures and one to one contact with a member of the department. The final assessment for a Masters degree is often based on the submission of a dissertation, usually of between 10,000 - 20,000 words. Taught Courses generally result in the award of Diplomas, Certificates and certain Masters degrees.

Diplomas & Certificates

eg. PGDip, PGCert, PGCE, DipSW

Postgraduate diplomas and certificates are almost always awarded after the successful completion of a postgraduate taught course.

Both types of award are frequently given for conversion courses (a short vocationally orientated qualification design to enable graduates of one discipline to acquire skills and training in a different discipline). These courses often provide preparation for membership of a professional organisation.

Conversion courses are always taught and usually take one academic year. In some cases the course may finish with a postgraduate diploma (PGDip) and entry onto a Masters degree course may not be automatic.

Taught Masters Degrees

eg. MA, MSc, Med, MSocSc, MMus, MTh, MBA, LLM, MRes

Most Masters degrees are awarded after the successful completion of a taught course. Some, however, are awarded for research (eg MA by research) and some have both taught and research elements (eg MPhil). It is important that you ascertain the basis on which a degree will be awarded before you choose your programme of study.

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